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Six mirrors arrive at La Palma

21/05/2004

They're here! The first batch of segments for the primary mirror of the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) have arrived on site in the last few days.

The primary mirror, which will be 11.31 metres across (equivalent to a circular mirror 10.4 metres in diameter), willl be made up of 36 hexagonal Zeradur™ segments. Zeradur™ is an extraordinarily uniform material which expands and contracts very little with changes in temperature. The mirror will be made up of 42 pieces (36 plus 6 spares), each 1.9 metres across, 8 centimetres thick and weighing 470 kg.

The derivatives were manufactured by the German company SCHOTT. On completion they were delivered to the French company SAGEM, which is responsible for polishing the mirrors. SAGEM has now handed over this first batch of mirrors to us.

Each of the segments has been given the name of one of the Canary Islands, and in this first batch are Taburiente, El Hierro, Almácigo, Bejeque, Capirote y Folía.

We have prepared a video of the transportation process, from the removal of one of the segments from its container, to the quality checking of the surface.

Mirrors’ names

Taburiente is the name of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park on the island of La Palma.

El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands, situated at the extreme southwest of the archipelago. Its 278km surface area contains a very varied landscape, from rocky coasts to coves and natural pools.

Almácigo (Mount Atlas Mastic), a tree that grows up to two metres high in the 'bosque termófilo' woods on all of the islands except for El Hierro and Lanzarote.

Bejeque is a species of plant endemic to the Canary Islands which includes numerous types of aeonium and greenovia.

Capirote (Blackcap) is the common name of the birds Sylvia atricapilla and Sylvia melanocephala, also known as "the nightingale of the Canaries" because of its beautiful song.

Folía is a well-known and very popular dance in the Canaries, which probably came originally from Portugal.

Natalia R. Zelman

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